OUT THERE/IN HERE

JUST SUPPOSE THAT THERE ARE POWERFUL ALIENS OUT THERE looking at us – maybe walking among us.

JUST SUPPOSE they are watching to see how we conduct ourselves; watching to see if we respect eternal principles of the universe.

JUST SUPPOSE those who live by those powerful principles will someday be transported to a place in the universe where they will live in eternal luxury enjoying blissful joy forever and ever.

JUST SUPPOSE that those who in their bitter hate and skepticism will be transported to a place of eternal stench and filth living with the smell of death forever and ever.

THE ETERNAL GOD OF THE UNIVERSE has it all planned out.  No aliens!  Since people are more likely to believe in aliens, God clothed himself in human flesh, paid the price with his justifying blood and for those who believe in him he said,

“There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.”

John 14:2-3 (nlt)

“When my way grows drear, precious Lord linger near

When my light is almost gone

Hear my cry, hear my call

Hold my hand lest I fall

Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home.”

HOLY COMMUNION

HOLY COMMUNION – what is it?  What does it do?

I saw a film of a tractor stuck in the mud. As it crossed a small stream, another larger machine hooked on to it and both machines working together lifted the smaller tractor up and out to solid ground.  Pardon my rather weak analogy, but to me, Holy Communion is somewhat like pulling me out of the mud of daily life.  However, we must be careful.  Be very careful!  It is a sacred Mystery.  It is “the sharing or exchanging of intimate thoughts and feelings, especially when the exchange is on a mental or spiritual level.”  It is even more.  It is an unexplainable Mystery!

Holy Communion is not for everyone.  It is only for those who know him, who are devoted to him, who love him.  It is for those who sanctify his holy sacrifice in their life.  The purpose of a gathering together of the people of Christ is to remember and participate in the holy sacrifice of Jesus, God in the flesh.  It is the uniting of the Holy Body and Precious Blood of Jesus Christ and this Holy Mystery accomplished through the Holy Spirit.

What does the HOLY BIBLE say?    I Corinthians 11:23-28 (msg)

“Let me go over with you again exactly what goes on in the Lord’s Supper and why it is so centrally important. I received my instructions from the Master himself and passed them on to you. The Master, Jesus, on the night of his betrayal, took bread. Having given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body, broken for you. Do this to remember me.’  After supper, he did the same thing with the cup: ‘This cup is my blood, my new covenant with you. Each time you drink this cup, remember me.’  What you must solemnly realize is that every time you eat this bread and every time you drink this cup, you reenact in your words and actions the death of the Master. You will be drawn back to this meal again and again until the Master returns. You must never let familiarity breed contempt.

“Anyone who eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Master irreverently is like part of the crowd that jeered and spit on him at his death.  Is that the kind of “remembrance” you want to be part of? Examine your motives, test your heart, come to this meal in holy awe.”

St. John Chrysostom writes: “I believe, O Lord, and I confess that You are truly the Christ, the Son of The Living God, who did come into the world to save sinners, of whom I am first.  I also believe that this is Your Sacred Body, and this is Your Precious Blood.  Therefore, I pray to you, have mercy upon me, and forgive my transgressions, voluntary and involuntary, in word and deed, both know and unknown, and make me worthy to partake of Your sacred Mysteries for the remission of sins and life eternal, Amen.”

The Apostle Peter instructs us,  “Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus is revealed at his coming.  As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.  But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do.”

1 Peter 1:15 (niv)

Therefore, Holy Communion or Eucharist is:

  1. A Command
  2. A Reminder
  3. A Covenant
  4. A Celebration
  5. And the warning from the Apostle Paul is: “If you give no thought (or worse, don’t care) about the broken body of the Master when you eat and drink, you’re running the risk of serious consequences. That’s why so many of you even now are listless and sick, and others have gone to an early grave. If we get this straight now, we won’t have to be straightened out later on.  Better to be confronted by the Master now than to face a fiery confrontation later.”

I Corinthians 29-32 (msg)

FEELING HOPELESS?

FEELING HOPELESS?

Is it because you think you should be punished?

In the Philippines just before Easter, men will whip and beat themselves until they are bloodied almost into death. Some have been known to try crucifixion.  It is known as SELF-FLAGELLATION – “the act of hitting yourself with a whip as a way to punish yourself or as part of a religious ritual.”

A guy in South Texas said to me, “Man, I’ve really been an idiot.”  He had no church background. He didn’t understand “churchy” language.  He really didn’t even know what sin was.  All he knew was that he had been an idiot; almost ruined his life.  He felt hopeless because he thought he had been an idiot and needed punishment.

I told him about Jesus, the Savior, but when I tried to take a positive approach for his salvation, he kept coming back to how big of an idiot he was and how he needed to be “smacked up ‘side da hayud.” [Texas slanguage]  He was mentally and emotionally broken.  It seemed that his only answer to peace was self-flagellation.

The two thieves who were crucified with Jesus explored self punishment both knowing they had done wrong. “One of the criminals hanging alongside cursed him: ‘Some Messiah you are! Save yourself! Save us!’ But the other one made him shut up: ‘Have you no fear of God? You’re getting the same as him. WE DESERVE THIS, but not him—he did nothing to deserve this.’

Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you enter your kingdom.’ Jesus answered, ‘Don’t worry, I will. Today you will join me in paradise.’”

Luke 23:39-43 (msg)

You may think you have been an idiot. It may seem as though there is no hope. It may look like God’s forgiveness is too easy – that your sin is too great and your only hope is to have your legs broken.  God’s answer through Christ is, “DON’T WORRY!”  Worry, self punishment, hopelessness, fear, doubt and anxiety are not the answer to “idiocy” and sin!

“It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It’s a wonder God didn’t lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah.”

Ephesians 2:1-6 (msg)

🎼🎶🎹

“Near the cross, a trembling soul,

Love and mercy found me;

There the Bright and Morning Star

Shed His beams around me

“Near the cross! I’ll watch and wait,

Hoping, trusting ever;

Till I reach the golden strand,

Just beyond the river.

“In the cross, in the cross

Be my glory ever,

Till my ransomed soul shall find

Rest beyond the river.”

(Fanny Crosby)

STRAIN AT A GNAT

I DON’T CARE ABOUT MOST OF THE THINGS THAT A FEW OF THOSE PREACHERS ON TV DO.  For instance, I really don’t care if the earth was formed 6,000 years ago or 10 Billion years ago.  I don’t think the Lord God inspired the Bible to be a book of irrefutable science. If it was important for us to know exactly when and how the earth was formed he would have made it abundantly clear.

If Jesus had wanted us to know the exact date of his coming he would have told us.  And yet I have heard a few TV guys and others laboriously trying to find in Scripture and signs in the sky when we will see Jesus coming.  I’m ready!  Are you?  Maybe those speeching-preaching entertainers are too busy raising money for their $50 million dollar jet plane to

“Preach the word; to be prepared in season and out of season; to correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.”

2 Timothy 4:2 (niv)

I heard a guy on TV say that we are going to be in heaven exactly the way we are on earth, but without the limitations.  Reeely?

As for me, I don’t want to be like I am now.  I like myself, kinda, but I’m not a narcissist.  Being free of limitations may be great, but I would need to strain at a gnat and swallow a camel to find anything like that in the Bible.  I’ll guarantee you that when Jesus comes – whenever that may be – and he introduces me to my heavenly body,   🎼🎶🎹

“there’ll be singing, there’ll shouting

When the saints come marching home,

In Jerusalem, in Jerusalem,

Waving palms with loud hosannas

As the King shall take His throne,

In the new Jerusalem.”

(C. B. Widmeyer)

Much of that preaching is designed to either raise money or scare the living daylights out of people.  My heart and life are ready.  I love the Savior and he loves me, and his saving grace makes me unbelievably happy.

🎼🎶🎹

“Whenever I am tempted,

whenever clouds arise,

when song gives place to sighing,

when hope within me dies,

I draw the closer to him;

from care he sets me free:

his eye is on the sparrow,

and I know he watches me;

his eye is on the sparrow,

and I know he watches me.

“I sing because I’m happy,

I sing because I’m free,

for his eye is on the sparrow,

and I know he watches me.”

(Civilla D. Martin)

THE CHURCH IN THE AGE OF RELATIVISM

Next door to my daughter’s apartment is a prominent downtown church; a rather large one.  She invited me to go with her to explore the possibility of her making it her church home.  There was no one to greet us, only a sign notifying attendees to help themselves to the daily program.

After being seated, I opened the program.  The “service” was “Honoring Great American Feminists; Bella Abzug, Hillary Clinton, Angela Davis, Betty Friedan, Oprah Winfrey,  Gloria Steinem, and a few names I didn’t recognize.  The music consisted of the organ playing; no congregational singing.  The Pastor/Speaker reminded us of a few community activities and then directed those gathered to refer to the program.  His “sermon” started out by reminding us of the “The Day of the Woman.”  So far, we heard nothing about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the Nicene Creed, Abraham, Samson & Delilah, or the Virgin Mary, nor was a Scriptural basis used, not even Proverbs 31:10-31.

We had enough so we left …; and a few others did the same.  If I’m not mistaken, we thought we would hear something about Jesus.  Sorry Charlie!

Relativism is the philosophy that truth is only that which stands side by side to each individual’s beliefs and experiences, or more authoritatively, it is “any theory holding that criteria of judgment as relative, varying with individuals and their environments.” [Webster Dictionary]. In English it means: truth is not absolute!  In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Hamlet and Rosencrantz are talking: “Since nothing is really good or bad in itself – it’s all what a person thinks about it.”  So there is no truth, it is only what you think about it through your experiences of life.  

Therefore, basic and fundamental truth does not exist according to relativism.  Everything is nuanced.  To be up to date and appeal to the younger crowd, the millennials, the hip Preacher/Speecher, is required to make the Bible “a living, breathing” document, relevant to todays way of thinking.  Forget theology.  Forget thee’s and thou’s.  OK?  Some will say, “Its better to get them through the doors of the church than to force them to stay at the nightclub!”

Activities, music and customs have always changed with the times.  No problem so far.  But wait a minute-wait a minute.  It has only been in the last 50 to 60 years that the Christian beliefs taught in the Nicene Creed have been deleted from our pulpits.  Consequently, most of the younger crowd today know nothing about the Trinity, or heaven or hell or sin.  They may know a little about the niceties of accepting Jesus as their personal Savior, but please don’t make them cry over Calvary or the blood.  If you preach too strongly about repentance and confession of sins, we’ll just go to another church.  We want to hear things that lift us up and make us feel good – “Lord knows how we need to hear some good stuff with all the bad things we see on TV news and besides, isn’t there only one God anyway?   We can be like Ancient Greece with many gods.  Since Christian theology and the Christian belief system has been thrown out the window, we can say that the golden calf, Allah, Thor, Jesus and whoever can be a god to us.  

Trinity?  “Forget it.  I can/t explain it anyway.”

Heaven?  “Do you mean aliens in spaceships?  UFOs?”

Repentance?  “Well, I’m sorry for a lot of things.”

Praying?  “Omg yes. I pray all the time.”

Living a holy life?  “You gotta be kidding.  I’m no monk.  And nobody’s perfect.”

“You’re going to find that there will be times when people will have no stomach for solid teaching, but will fill up on spiritual junk food—catchy opinions that tickle their fancy. They’ll turn their backs on truth and chase mirages. But you —keep your eye on what you’re doing; accept the hard times along with the good; keep the Message alive; do a thorough job as God’s servant.”

2 Timothy 4:3-5 (msg)

What is the true church?  Is the church of which Jesus is the founder an organization, an ornate, architectural building or arena or auditorium filled with happy-happy people listening to the latest rock music and a Speecher who stands on stage with one hand in the pocket of his torn jeans wearing sneakers while he make everyone laugh?   Is it a place where you can live like the devil all week long and come to “The Place” or “The Center” on Sunday, get out early for lunch and head for the beach?  Is a great church one that attracts the most people?   What about the music?  Does it truly bring out praises to God or does it simply tickle your fancy? 

God’s holy place of worship is, according to the Word of God, a gathering of those who “testified powerfully to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and God’s great blessing was upon them all.”

Acts of the Apostles 4:33 (nlt)

In the early church, the power of the Holy Spirit was upon them all; not trying to be relevant; not trying to make the Word a living, breathing document; no trying to be a late night comedian.  It was so holy that when a man and his wife lied about giving, God struck them dead!  I fear that too many churches today are too busy counting nickels and noses to be filled with the Holy Spirit; to testify powerfully and be a great blessing!

THE FORGOTTEN PAIN

THEY WHIPPED JESUS. THEY HUMILIATED HIM WITH TAUNTS. THEY SPAT ON HIM.  THEY SHOUTED SNEERING INSULTS. THEY LAUGHED AT HIM.

But there was a stabbing pain of the soul not recorded in Scripture.  Oh it’s there alright, but very little or nothing is written about the hurt, the disappointment Jesus felt when Judas stooped so low in his betrayal for a measly 30 pieces of silver.  Jesus loved Judas. He occupied an important position as treasurer of the group.

Jesus told the assembled disciples, “‘One of you is going to hand me over to the conspirators.’”

Matthew 26:20-21 (msg)

It could have been any one of them.  Jesus didn’t name the guy because he didn’t want to embarrass anyone.

If your husband or wife or friend betrayed you, would you publicly hold them up for ridicule?  Jesus would never hold anyone up for public embarrassment.  He knew  the unexplainable pain of disaffection and deception.

“Then Judas, already turned traitor, said, ‘It isn’t me, is it, Rabbi?’ Jesus said, ‘Don’t play games with me, Judas.’”

Matthew 26:25 (msg)

Although nothing is mentioned of Jesus’ feelings at the time, but can’t you just feel Christ’s mixture of anger and hurt.

Arrogantly taking someone for a chump creates a toxic emotional poison in body and mind.  You may have read my article on oxytocin, a hormone associated with betrayal and revenge (“Love hath no fury like a woman scorned!”)  Oxytocin is a hormone produced by the hypothalamus.  In my book, WRITE IT ON MY HEART, I address the issue more completely, but suffice it to say that if you betray her or him, you better watch out!  In fact, if either of you starts to nibble around the edges of moral certitude, you’re a goner. Something crazy and destructive begins to happen and all hell will break loose. Your sins will find you out.   Have you noticed it in real life? Oxytocin & Cortisol – Tiger Woods, John Gotti, Charlie Sheen, and countless others great and small are gluttons for punishment?

Write It On My Heart – Speaking Truth in Love

Screen Shot 2018-08-13 at 9.13.36 AM.jpg

No, I’m not a molecular biologist so don’t get all freaked out that this is an illustrious article with ibids, op cits and quotes from noted scientists, PhD’s, DD’s, MD’s, DVD’s, and other learned D’s past, present and future.  Cortisol is a hormone finding its origin in the hypothalamus which then tells the pituitary gland to shoot out Oxytocin, known as the DEATH HORMONE. I think the medical name for it is hydrocortisone. Sometime, old people have too much of it, and then they kick the bucket. BUT, would you believe, IT CAN BE TRIGGERED BY GUILT!

It is a “stress” hormone.  Cortisol, the hormone,  can increase blood pressure, diabetes, depression, anxiety and other stuff.  From a “ministerial” (😊) perspective, I might even jump to this conclusion: since guilt is  “a feeling of responsibility or remorse for some offense, crime, wrong, etc., whether real or imagined,” tragic consequences occur in your body, daily activities and even in your thinking.

We know – it is proven – that the mind affects the body. I would submit that your spirit affects both mind and body.  The Psalmist wrote:  “Then I let it all out; I said, ‘I’ll make a clean breast of my failures to GOD.’   Suddenly the pressure was gone— my GUILT dissolved, my sin disappeared.”

Psalm 32:5

CORTISOL is the Death Hormone. Oxytocin is the betrayal/revenge Hormone.  It could be that Jeremiah is addressing this thought:

“All … your friends have forgotten you. They don’t care about you. I have hurt you as an enemy would. I punished you very hard, because your GUILT was so great and your sins were so many. Why are you crying out about your injury? There is no cure for your pain. I did these things to you because of your great GUILT, because of your many sins.”

Jeremiah 30:14-15

“Let me tell you something wonderful, a mystery I’ll probably never fully understand. … in a single victorious stroke of Life, all three—sin, GUILT, death—are gone, the gift of our Master, Jesus Christ. Thank God!”

1 Corinthians 15:51-57

Jesus, being fully human as well as fully God, most assuredly had a broken heart beyond words when Judas betrayed him. But think of Judas – he “threw the silver coins into the Temple and left. Then he went out and hung himself.”

Matthew 27:5 (msg)

Oh the hurt that Jesus felt!

PROSPERITY

NOT OFTEN DO I AGREE WITH STUFF ONLINE (sometimes, not even my own stuff), BUT I READ AN ARTICLE PUBLISHED BY CRUX that addressed the issue of THE PROSPERITY GOSPEL, which traces its origins to the United States in the late 19th century, views wealth and success as synonymous with true religious conviction and consequently, sees “poverty, sickness and unhappiness” as a lack of faith.

This idea of “send ME your seed” and you’ll be healthy, wealthy, and wise is a hoax.  Don’t fall for it!  The idea that you can pursue the American dream by sending money to someone who lives in luxury doesn’t make Biblical sense.  This idea of affluence associated with Christian theology crawls with the snake that deceived Eve.

By the way, those same positive speaking guys and gals, although making us feel good, cannot “heal” everyone; maybe no one.  If we simply say that God can heal you, no one would ever die.  Spiritual vitality is far deeper than anything physical.

Evil is always parasitic!  As with Eve, the Evil One will always appeal to those areas of life in which we are most vulnerable; sex as pleasure – lust,  money to bring self-gratification – greed, having a physical god – idolatry, pride and arrogance or anything that replaces the goodness of God.  Evil resides in our will, our choices.  There is nothing in this world more powerful than the power of our free-will.  When we give in to those destructive things, those attitudes toward base desires, sin occurs.  Sin is much more than holding your little bow and missing the bullseye.  Sin was so destructive that it created within the human being a toxic, poisonous mental and emotional stew causing terrifying consequences.  It is so bad that it put Christ on the cross!

To consider serving the Lord God a celestial vehicle for prosperity is the height of selfish greed.

God is not a plaything.  His church is not to be “used” to satisfy greed.  And for sure, the poor and unsuspecting should not be used to purchase someone’s Gulf Stream IV.  Oh I know, we have considered old fashioned the idea of Christian theology …; “its boring.”  But you know what?  It would be wonderful to hear the powerful Word of God preached so that “heaven came down and glory filled my soul.”  Most of the time, however, we …  “tell [our] spiritual leaders, ‘Don’t bother us with irrelevancies.’  They tell their preachers, ‘Don’t waste our time on impracticalities. Tell us what makes us feel better. Don’t bore us with obsolete religion. That stuff means nothing to us. Quit hounding us ….’”

Isaiah 30:8-11 (msg)

No wonder the popular thing today is a church Rock concert with a “Speecher” telling us how good we are and how we deserve to “think and grow rich.”  Oh, and this is after we went shopping in the church mall buying our Starbucks and picking up the latest T-shirt that says, “Don’t Blame Jesus if You Go To Hell” with a big yellow happy face on it.   Or another approach is to scare the living daylights out of us predicting when Jesus will come followed, of course, by an exhortation to “give and you’ll get!”

TATTOO HIS NAME

NOPE! TATTOOS ARE NOT MY CUP OF TEA.  SEEMS THAT SUDDENLY, all over the place, our younger generation has tattoos. I saw an old codger – wrinkled and everything (‘bout my age) – with tattoos all over his arms and neck.  Then I read  Isaiah 49:16 (kjv)
“Behold, I have engraved thee upon the palms of my hands; ….”
‭‭Next, I was shocked how the Living Bible (paraphrase) translates it.
“See, I have “TATTOOED”‭ your name upon my palms ….”
MORE COMPLETELY THE NIV SAYS:  “Shout for joy, you heavens; rejoice, you earth; burst into song, you mountains! For the Lord comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones.  “See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; ….”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭49:13, 16‬
Jesus “‘said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side.  STOP DOUBTING AND BELIEVE.’”
‭‭John‬ ‭20:27‬ ‭(niv)

MUSCLEBOUND!

ARE YOU MUSCLEBOUND?  WE HAD A GOVERNOR here in California who was known all over the world. He was a bodybuilder and powerlifter.  He preened, primped and pranced before thousands with the crowd praising his appearance.  I looked up the medical definition of muscle bound.  It is,  “having some of the muscles tense and enlarged and of impaired elasticity sometimes as a result of excessive exercise.”

A musclebound person can have serious medical problems.

It is clearly understood that Saul of Tarsus (the Apostle Paul) was not only ordained by God, but was a resolute intellectual.  He could have continued on to be a serious, intellectual, spiritually  “musclebound” man of history heaping praise on himself.  After all, it is known he wrote 13, maybe 14, of the Books of the New Testament.

BUT, HE WAS GIVEN A “THORN IN THE FLESH!”

“Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

2 Corinthians 12:8-9.

From this scripture, we learn a great deal about suffering, weakness, and the power of God. We learn from Paul’s experience that God will allow our strength to be sacrificed so that we may experience His true and greater strength. We can only go so far in our own strength for the following reasons:

1. Our strength stifles our experiencing God’s strength in our lives.

2. Our strength limits us to only what we can do.

3. Our strength can serve as a temptation to boast in ourselves when our purpose is found in giving God glory.

In God’s response to Paul, we learn two significant lessons when dealing with difficulties in life.”

(1)  I won’t boast “because I don’t want anyone to give me credit ….”

2 Corinthians 12:6 (nlt)

(2)  “… when I am weak, then I am strong,”

2 Corinthians 12:10.

Strange, isn’t it!  In our weakness, in our surrender God’s amazing power enters us.